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Comedy Game Changers

William Neal | Thursday, February 7, 2013

 

The following is a list of shows that, while not widely adored, redefine the typical definition of a sitcom.

 

“30 Rock”

“Good God, Lemon!” “30 Rock” isn’t your average sitcom. It’s a show that understands the mechanics of television comedy backwards and forwards, allowing it to dance circles around the genre. Its humor often doesn’t connect widely with audiences because it’s a satirical show. But under the obscure references and fast-paced nonsense, the writing is truly smart. The main cast embodies stereotypical and peculiar personas that come off more as caricatures than real people, yet the result is witty and successful. The show laughs at itself, embraces vertical integration and never strays from its oddball format. “30 Rock” changed the game by encouraging future comedies to be weird and find humor in the bizarre.

 

“Arrested Development”

“Arrested Development” is like the “Breaking Bad” of comedies, by which I mean you will incessantly hear from people that you have to watch it. Well, they’d be right to say so, because I can say with confidence that “Arrested Development” is one of the funniest shows of all time. It’s a show about an everyday guy trying to handle his family of imbeciles. Each family member is unique and hilarious in his or her own way, and while they drive each other to the point of insanity, they need one another to get by. The writing is beyond clever and forces you to re-watch and find countless obscure jokes and references. It took a cancellation for audiences to truly appreciate the humor of this show, and with a fourth season arriving soon on Netflix, I insist that you find time to sit down and appreciate what this show has to offer. “Arrested Development” changed the game by encouraging shows like “Community” to focus on wit and quality, even if they aren’t commercial successes.

 

“Curb Your Enthusiasm”

Drawing inspiration from his own life, Seinfeld co-creator Larry David shows through “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that there’s always humor to be found in first world misfortunes. David plays himself in the leading role with each plot focusing on a series of unfortunate circumstances that always build to greater humor. What’s really unique about “Curb” is that each scene of an episode is given a premise and is then completely improvised by the actors. From this we get hysterically absurd, yet completely genuine dialogue. It has a tendency to go beyond edgy but does so to prove that there’s always humor to be found in any situation. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” changed the game by breaking away from scripts and telling us it’s O.K. to laugh at taboo topics.

 

“Louie”

It’s hard to call “Louie” a comedy because it so often strays into dark and dreary territory. But then again, that’s what makes the show stand out. Louis C.K. plays himself as a single dad raising two girls and working as a comedian, all while trying not to let reality suck the life out of him. He highlights that quite frequently, life can be totally a drag … but that’s O.K. Each episode is filled with awkward, dull and infuriating moments for Louie that are not only hilarious but also realistic and often relatable. He opens nearly every episode with a hysterical monologue that, like “Seinfeld,” ties itself into the episode. What follows are stories covering a range of heavy subject matter that audiences can’t help but laugh at. This show is not only smart but also one of a kind and certainly unlike any other series listed in this article. It may be hard to watch at times, but that may be because it’s all too relatable. “Louie” changed the game because comedic genius Louie C.K. shows viewers that the hardships of reality are funny, even when they happen to us.